Thursday, April 1, 2010

Another reason to shoot film?

I found this article in the Register-Guard today. I'm not sure what to make of it. It sounds too outlandish to believe but then again truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.

"ROCHESTER, NY - According to a recent study, digital photography may be a significant contributor to climate change. The study, commissioned by Ilford and conducted at Rochester Institute of Technology, compared the heating effect of photons on a variety of light-sensitve materials including digital sensors, film, and plant products. Researchers found that digital media converted photon energy to heat at rates up to 50 times the rate of film and 500 times the rate of plants.

The study found that film reflected most light photons back out to space, and plants converted them into sugars. But photons hitting digital sensors were converted into heat energy which remained trapped inside the camera body, where it was then released into the earth's atmosphere. The exact dynamics of the heat transfer are still under study.

If confirmed, the study could have wide ranging implications for climate change. There are an estimated 300 million digital cameras currently in use worldwide. Scientists estimate their heating effect to be roughly equivalent to the carbon emissions of 20,000 cars annually. The number of digital cameras is expected to double within the next decade, while the number of potentially heat-generating exposures is expected to rise tenfold."

I've tried Googling this article but I can't find any other info. Does anyone out there know more about this?


Nikola said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

Does the model take into account the exponential rise of sunset, flower, and kitten pictures that are being upload to Flickr, Facebook, and other photo sharing sites? I would think that the added carbon footprint would be a significant percentage of the sensor energy usage. There is a good reason why President Obama recently decided to reopen offshore drilling.

Michal Jaworski said...

To be meaningful any such research would have to deal with the whole process of photography production, not only what's happening in the camera.
It would have to consider the energy and resource used to develop film.
It would have to consider that, although a print could have the same carbon footprint no matter if it's from film or digital, the rise of digital had a substantial negative impact on the number of prints being made.
I love and shoot film myself, but using bad science to defend it is just that - bad science.

gds506 said...

too bad that the Register-Guard didn't mention the names of the researchers who were involved in the project or at least the title of the published research.
Tryied to find it in Google Scholar and Web of Science but didn't work.
Maybe the note is based on preliminary results.

Blake Andrews said...

It was just a snippet which looked pulled from the wire service, no supporting references.

Chris, you're right that all those sunset and kitten shots certainly generate a lot of heat. I haven't seen specific studies like the one referenced here but, like everything, they do have an environmental price. Something to consider the next time you're out making snapshots.

As for measuring the impact of the whole process of photography, I think it's fair to say that debate on this issue generates a huge amount of hot air every day, probably equivalent to 10 or 20 cars worth of emissions.

Johan said...

Good thing April 1st only comes once a year, right? :)


Jin said...

I can't believe anything I read today, dammit...!

Ian Aleksander Adams said...

good one, man